Savings for over 60s: Tips to reduce the cost of medications

Medication can be quite pricey, but there are ways to reduce costs. Source: Getty Images.

As we age, we can be faced with a range of health issues that require medication to manage. Whether it’s managing chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure or dealing with new health problems that arise with age, medication use increases as we get older.

Unfortunately, this means your wallet can take a big hit as you fork out money each month to afford different medicines.

To provide some context, in 2020–21, the Australian Government recorded $13.9 billion in spending on all PBS and RPBS medicines, or $541 per person, with over half of PBS and RPBS medicines dispensed to people aged 65 and over (54 per cent).

Despite the considerable amounts being spent on medications across the country there is no need to put your retirement dreams to the side and dip into your savings as there are plenty of ways to save money on medications without putting your health at risk.

From opting for generic medications to buying a larger supply of medicine at once, paying full price will quickly become a thing of the past.

Keep an eye out for more affordable alternatives

Even with seniors’ discounts and concession cards, the cost of medication can quickly add up and put pressure on household budgets, particularly for pensioners, according to Advantage Pharmacy‘s pharmacist Montana Grenfell.

Generic medicines offer cheaper alternatives to popular household brands while offering the exact same active ingredients, and by seeking them out on your next trip to the pharmacy, you can save some valuable dollars.

Don’t forget to speak with your pharmacist before taking any new medicines.

Source: Getty Images.

Get a bigger dosage

Some prescription medications have double dose options which can be divided with a pill splitter and used over two days. For example, you could get a 100mg pill that can be split into two 50 mg pills.

However, not all medications can be split, such as capsules, tablets that have a coating over them, or slow-release medicines. Check with your doctor to see if your medication can be split.

Purchase a larger supply

Instead of getting a month’s supply, ask your doctor if it’s possible to get a three-month supply. This is a viable option for those who are taking medications long term.

This will save you time and money, as you’ll have limited visits to the chemist to pick up your medication.

Ask about combination medicines

Managing certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, often requires a combination of different medications. To simplify the process, these medicines may be combined into a single, convenient tablet.

Consult with your physician to determine if a combination medication is available and suitable for your condition. This not only saves you money but also reduces the inconvenience of taking multiple pills daily.

Source: Getty Images.

Check if a PBS Safety Net applies

If your medication is listed under the government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), you’ll already receive a discount on the full price. For pensioners and concession card holders, each medicine under the PBS will cost you $7.30.

There is a threshold set – $262.80 for concession card holders and $1,563.50 for general patients – however, once you reach these, you’ll be entitled to further discounts through the PBS Safety Net.

Once you reach the Safety Net threshold, you’ll be required to apply for a PBS Safety Net card to receive further discounted medicines. Your medication will then be free, if you’re a concession card holder, or will cost up to $7.30 for general patients

Make sure new medications are better

Attractive packaging and enticing promises of improved health may lure you towards trying new medications, but it’s important to note that they may provide no more benefits than your current treatment.

The elevated cost of these drugs could be solely due to their newly introduced status in the market.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

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